The publishing and advertising landscape has undergone massive changes in the past quarter of a century, and even to this day digitization is exerting unexpected forces on the industry, e.g. the predicted accelerated growth of VR advertising and e-sport advertising.
All this puts pressure on publishers. How do they keep up with competitors, deliver revenue growth, unlock new revenue streams and control costs when the ground is constantly shifting beneath their feet? They largely do this by adopting tech integrations that allow them to do new things, such as:
- Diversifying their publishing platforms (e.g. video-on-demand, audio, podcasts)
- Expanding ad tech methodologies (e.g. PG, PMP)
- Evolving affiliated partnerships and coalitions
- Offering value-added services and offerings (e.g. events, sponsorships)
- Implementing customer self-service platforms
But like any major business development project, the integration of new technology entails risk if not executed properly. In extreme circumstances, poor planning and execution can result in 100s of millions of dollars in lost revenue or, even worse, billions of dollars in litigation.
Following a recent webinar we conducted with Marvin Walstra from DPG Media, who spearheaded a successful major transformation with CloudSense, we wanted to take you through the key phases of a smooth integration, based on Marvin’s experience.
Phase 1: Establish what you want to achieve and what you need to change
Defining precisely what it is you want to be able to do in your ad sales and operations is vital: What are you missing? Where could you cut costs? What can’t you do that you want to be able to?
Marvin Walstra took time to establish three main goals before DPG Media’s implementation:
- Legacy system removal
“The first goal was to replace the system with one that was better fit for purpose. At that time we had a solution that was hampering business: it had been heavily customised over the years, and blocked us from continuing to improve that system going forward."
- In-house configuration
“The second goal was to have a solution that was flexible by configuration, not by software coding."
- Cost efficiency and automation
“The third was to bring the costs better in balance with the benefits, and look at process steps that we could automate.”
Phase 2: Implement the new system with regular testing
Every implementation is bound to be unique, but its success will depend on the skill of your IT department, and the quality of support from your tech supplier. In the case of DPG Marvin told us:
“It was quite an intensive journey. We implemented the functionality step by step, and at the end of each sprint we did demos and testing so we could get instant feedback.
“With each step we implemented a part of the whole end-to-end process. We started building the product catalog, then the order management screens, and then the implementation of the invoicing logic. This meant that each process step was done perfectly well, but we only saw the total integration at the end of the implementation phase.”
“One of the final steps was the user acceptance testing; in parallel to that, we were still in business, so we had an operational system with a lot of data in it. So we had to migrate that data to the new environment.
“Lastly we did various dry runs in getting the system live, and once we got that all covered we went live over a weekend; so from the next Monday we were no longer using the old system.”
Marvin’s top 3 tips for new integrations:
1. Share end-to-end concept early
“Introducing a new system is difficult especially for business users, but we could only show it to them at the end of the implementation phase. So one of the learnings is to start building the skeleton end-to-end, so that you are able to show the end users what basic processes are going to look like.”
2. Allow for continuous feedback
“No matter how good your requirement management process is, always keep sufficient slack. Because the moment you start building stuff and people see it working, they start asking questions “How am I going to do this? Because I am used to doing it in this other way now”. Long story short, you will accrue additional requirements along the way.
3. Bring in domain experts
“What worked well was that I had a lot of domain experts from the business acting as key users towards their specific department. So they could bring in all their knowledge of sales, marketing or services etc; at the same time I could have discussions about the requirements for each specific area organised and solved by those key users.”
Phase 3: System embedding, training and post-implementation review
Another advantage of bringing domain experts into the fold during the configuration stage is that their suggested requirements bring your final product into closer alignment with what your staff will be comfortable with.
Nevertheless, they will still require training to be confident using your new system. Often your software supplier, who will understand their platform better than anyone, can provide personal training and onboarding as part of the implementation. Take advantage of that, but make sure you have someone in house who is capable of providing refresher courses for existing staff members should they need it, and onboarding courses for new sales personnel.
Even once your staff are happily using your new system with confidence, you will want to conduct a post-implementation review, to ensure that you are delivering on your original goals.
- Look back to what objectives you outlined in the initial Define stage, and measure whether those are being met
- Investigate whether your new implementation has the potential to deliver additional, unscoped benefits with further development
- Document the lessons learned from the experience, as they will serve as a guide to any future projects you undertake
You can watch the full webinar on-demand here: